It was Friday, and it was ‘The Questors time’ again. We were grateful as ever to receive a free pair of tickets to review their latest gem, the world premiere of No Fairy Tale by Brian Abbott.
It’s 1942, somewhere near Cork in Ireland, and we meet an elderly couple Tim Buckley ‘the Tailor’ and his wife Anastasia ‘Ansty’. They are a remarkable pair, and the performance of both actors captivates the audience from the very beginning. The banter and the chemistry between those two are explosive.
The Tailor’s stories attract regular visitors. The fire never goes out in their modest cottage. His tales are hilarious, sending the audience into roars of laughter. He doesn’t hold back and tells it straight which was out of step with the mores of the time. So much so that an English writer, Eric Cross, comes to hear his stories for himself and as a result, publishes the book ‘The Tailor and Ansty’.
The Irish Censorship Board is not happy at all. The book gets banned for indecency in Ireland, and the English government doesn’t want to risk the second run.
Things become very difficult for the Tailor and Ansty. Their neighbours turn their backs on them, the couple get regularly harassed and their cottage is vandalised. The Tailor, whose main motto in life is ‘Take life fine and easy and life will be fine and easy on you’, is devastated and angry at the Church. For the first time, he is lost for words and the fire is out…
The final straw happens when three priests arrive from Dublin and demand that the Tailor apologises and publically disowns the book. They end up physically attacking the couple forcing the Tailor on his knees to burn his beloved book.
That scene was very powerful and realistic. Ansty, who normally lets the Tailor run the show while she puts the tea on and cleans the house, comes into her fierce own and shows a great deal of bravery and courage. That book to her is like a child she’d never had, and seeing it on fire breaks her heart even more than the lost friendships.
Some actors have been with The Questors since the 80s! The performances are flawless and really hit the nerve. We hated the ignorant and foul-mouthed Cardinal and the priests, we felt sorry for the young and the old Cross (who struggled with guilt all his life after publishing the book), we loved the Tailor’s colourful comic tales and Ansty’s sharp tongue and bravery.
The Director, Francis Lloyd, has championed this play very well and set the bar pretty high for the followers.
6, 7, 10-14 June at 7.45pm; 8 June at 2.30pm
£13.00 (£12.00 conc, £7.00 under-16/student), final Fri/Sat £15.00 (£14.00 conc, £8.00 under-16/student)